Race Day 6 – Oulton Park
Round six of the championship was held at the Oulton park circuit in Cheshire. We arrived at the track at about 10pm after a 4 hour drive to get there. All of the racing took place on the Saturday, my 21st birthday so I wanted to do well. When it was time for me to get ready for my qualifying session I was in the assembly area running through the lines of the track in my head. When the session had ended I returned to the pits and as usual waited in anticipation for the timing sheets to be released. When they were released I had qualified in 28th position. I was pleased with this having never driven the track before but knew I could improve.
We lined up on the grid for the start of race 1 and as the lights went out I got off to a bad start. However, around the first corner there was a small accident involving two cars and getting a bad start was possibly a good thing, as I probably would have been involved in the accident knowing my luck this year. After missing the accident I wanted to settle down into as rhythm and try to make my way up the track, I found myself, however, trying too hard to do this and ‘overdriving’ the track, slowing me down further. All through the race I seemed to be closing in on the group in front but then losing ground on them, as the track was very hard to overtake on. When the race finished I was left frustrated in 26th position. When the timing sheets were released I had improved on my fastest lap time of the race by over half a second, something which I tried to be positive about, however I found myself struggling to do this.
Once in the assembly area for race 2, I tried to relax as much as possible to prevent overdriving as I had done in the first race. We then pulled onto the grid ready for the start and I got a better start this time, however, it was still quite poor. After the first lap I started to catch the pack in front of me and continued to do so for the next few laps. Then the car in front of me ran wide around the first corner presenting me with the passing opportunity I had been waiting for. However, I was pushed to the outside at turn two which compromised my speed on to the next straight and allowed the car behind me to overtake me. This seemed to flick a switch in my head that meant I started trying too hard again and ended up using too much track and braking with a wheel on the grass causing me to spin and leave me well behind the group of cars that I was racing with. Despite being in the lonely position, I concentrated on my lines of the track. Also to my frustration I had some problems with the autoclutch system that I use to help me change gears, slowing me down further.
When the chequered flag fell at the end of the race, I felt annoyed with myself, firstly, for ‘overdriving’ the track again and secondly for making the mistakes that I did. I finished the race in 31st position with a fastest lap time that was over a second slower than my fastest in race one, adding to my frustration.
The weekend was frustrating but I was able to bring myself and the car back in one piece ready for the next race. Once again I had learnt valuable lessons about the areas I need to improve on, the most important of these being my starts. If I can improve these it will then give me a better platform to move up the field in races. I need to focus on my lines on the track as opposed to worrying about the lines the cars in front were taking.
The weekend will have to go down as another lesson on the learning curve that I have been going through this season. I am now looking forward to the next round which is being held in three weeks at the Castle Coombe circuit near Bath.